The best place to live and set up your business

Famous as being a hub of innovation with a global reputation in tech, digital and data to boot, it’s no surprise that a growing number of ambitious businesses are choosing to set up in Scotland.

Work-life balance in Scotland

Among the top reasons companies increasingly choose Scotland as a base include:

  • Attractive property prices
  • A competitive business environment
  • Excellent transport links to other national and international business hubs
  • Talent and education

But, just as important is the overall sense of wellbeing and the experiences Scotland offers outside of work hours.

The pools at Glen Rosa with a view of Goat Fell on the Isle of Arran
Here are some examples of how relocating to Scotland can complement business and lifestyle pursuits in equal measure:

Quality of life

Above Scotland’s thriving urban social scene, we’re famous for our stunning scenery. Rolling hills, glens and lochs are reachable within an hour’s drive of any city centre. And, outdoor sports such as hillwalking and hiking are popular weekend pursuits in Scotland.

World's leading festival and event destination 

Glasgow has been crowned the world's leading festival and event destination by the World Travel Awardsbeating off competition from London, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Cape Town and previous double-winner Dubai to take the title. Indeed this vibrant UNESCO City of Music knows how to throw a party. With its legendary music scene covering a kaleidoscope of genres from punk, rock, contemporary and classical to Celtic and traditional, there's something for everyone.

The UK's culture capital

The European Commission has crowned Glasgow the UK's top cultural and creative city. It's a city bursting with energy, passion and creativity - brimming with artists, designers, creators and innovators. Finnieston in the West-end of the city is considered as "one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world", according to TimeOut.

A happy, friendly nation

Whether you choose to visit, invest, live, work or study in Scotland, you'll receive the warmest of welcomes. In fact, both Glasgow and Edinburgh are regularly ranked among the friendliest cities in the world. And Edinburgh was voted second in the world for quality of life, in a recent Deutsche Bank study. Low commuting times, property prices against income, and safety levels are among the factors which helped secure Edinburgh’s high position in the global survey of 47 cities. 

While, happiness levels among Scotland's population continue to rise, according to latest surveys. Read more on 

A day in the life of an investor

From risk management to mountain biking, Vida Rudkin, managing director at Morgan Stanley, Glasgow, offers us an insight into what it’s like to live and work in Scotland in more normal times.

Read Vida's story

Cost of living

A magnet for people locating to Scotland is affordability compared with the rest of the UK. This is reflected in the lower house prices in Scotland - on average a quarter less expensive than in other parts of the UK.

Housing in Edinburgh is 35% lower than in London, with transportation costs coming in at 48% cheaper. The cost of rent in Edinburgh is also estimated as less than half of London properties. Source: Expatistan cost of living comparison

According to recent research by Lloyds Banking Group and the Office for National Statistics, Scottish cities of Inverness, Aberdeen, Perth, Stirling, Glasgow and Dundee are all ranked within top 20 most affordable cities in the UK. Stirling, in Scotland’s central belt, was placed as the second most affordable city in the UK.

Why ION Geophysical chose Scotland

Take one world-class location, tech tenacity and then sprinkle some Scottish sense of humour. The result? A US technology company with a big and bold vision based Scotland. Chris Usher, President and CEO of ION Geophysical shares his affinity with Edinburgh.

Watch our video clip.

Business environment

When it comes to setting up business in Scotland, the competition is less fierce compared to London. Commercial property rates are lower, the smaller city sizes allow easier networking opportunities, and, with five Scottish universities making the world’s top 200 every year, we boast a huge number of talented graduates.

According to a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Amazon, nearly three quarters of Scotland’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) think it is a good place to set up and run a small business.

The other most appealing aspects of doing business in Scotland are good access to skilled labour, lower operational costs compared to the rest of the UK and access to business advice and support.

English is the business language and the organisational culture is very similar to the rest of the UK.

Scotland is globally connected, with strong links to the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, making it a strong choice of location for both business and individuals or families looking to relocate. 

There's a diverse mix of strong sectors that make up the country’s business environment, ranging from food and drink to financial services and renewables to technology. The technology sector here, for example, consists of over 1,500 companies, with strong growth forecast - especially in digital technology.

And, European ex-pats just love living in Scotland, according to the latest release of the Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA) Liveability rankings. 

While Edinburgh was recently named the UK's top city for start-ups and attracts more foreign investment than any other tech cluster in the UK, outside London. According to Tech Nation it has 92% growth potential.

“Glasgow has been a fantastic location for us, with exceptional talent and people with a phenomenal ‘can-do’ attitude and true grit. We're excited to substantially expand our presence here.”

Peter Platzer, CEO, Spire

Scotland is home for US healthcare firm Spiritus

“Edinburgh is just a train ride from London, or a short flight. To give an American comparison, it's like flying from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, or Chicago to Cleveland though you don't have to pass time zones.

"But being able to touch top academic institutions and university researchers - connect into the business community - to large and small companies, government agencies and entities. That's possible to do here in a way that wouldn't be possible in London, much less so than some of the major American cities”.

Watch our video clip. Read the full story on

Green and progressive values

If you live in Scotland you can expect an equal, tolerant and inclusive society. In recent years, Scotland has been rated as the best country in Europe for LGBTI equality and human rights. We also have the smallest gender pay gap in the UK, and are actively working to tackle gender inequality.

Scotland is recognised as a world leader in tackling climate change and is committed to creating an environment which will positively impact both the Scottish and the global population. The country’s two most populous cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, have both committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Not only has Scotland halved its greenhouse gas emissions since 1990, we've continued to grow the economy, boost productivity and increase employment rates.

Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge the global climate emergency. Scotland has set a target date for reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 - the most stringent statutory targets in the world.

Glasgow, one of the UK's most sustainable cities has a great track record for hosting high-profile international events. Glasgow will host the United Nations global COP26 climate summit in 2021, where world leaders and up to 30,000 international delegates will come together to discuss how to tackle climate change on a global scale.

Explore Scotland's opportunities in renewables and low carbon 

Your guide to setting up in Scotland (PDF, 1.35MB)

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Our people and skills

Companies that invest in Scotland have access to an exceptionally educated, skilled and talented workforce.

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